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Al Haydos and Afif called up for duty as Qatar prepares for friendlies 

The national team’s bleak performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup had caused the squad to drop one place to 59th in the FIFA Rankings.

Qatar’s skilled veterans Hassan Al Haydos, Akram Afif and several other senior footballers are back on the national team as the Carlos Queiroz side prepares the 26-man squad for a string of friendlies.

The players who have been called called up for duty against Kenya and Russia later this month were previously snubbed from the Gold Cup campaign. However, they will now join their teammates Al Janoub Stadium games slated for September 7 and September 12.

Prominent defenders Boualem Khoukhi and Pedro Miguel, midfielders Karim Boudiaf and Abdulaziz Hatem and goalkeepers Saad Al Sheeb and Jasem Al Hail will all appear in the friendly competitions.

The friendly competitions are in preparation for Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign, which will kick off this coming November.

Qatar, the sixth best in Asia and the Middle East per FIFA world ranking, will compete against India, Kuwait, and Afghanistan or Mongolia for the World Cup 2026 and 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

With the 2026 edition of the World Cup expanding to a 48-team affair, the AFC will have eight direct qualification spots, four more than in the 2022 World Cup, and a playoff slot.

This is the third time that the first two rounds of qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup will also serve as the qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup.

After the qualifiers, the top two teams from each group will make it to the next round, while the rest will advance to the third round of the 2027 Asian Cup qualification.

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